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The Axe Murder Incident 18 Aug 1976

On Wednesday 18 August 1976 at 1040 hours in the morning, a United Nations Command (UNC) work force of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnelLt Barrett Captain Bonifasaccompanied by and UNC security force, including the Joint Security Force (JSF) Commander, Captain (P) Arthur G. Bonifas of Newburgh, New York, First Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett of Columbia, South Carolina, and one Republic of (South) Korean Army (ROKA) officer started to prune a large tree in the vicinity of UNC Check Point #3. This tree partially obscured the view between UNC Check Point #3 and UNC Check Point #5. In addition the un-pruned tree was also blocking the view of the "Bridge of No Return" from "Freedom House." Shortly after the KSC work force arrived at the tree and began to cut it back, (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) personnel appeared at the work site. For a short time, the KPA security force observed the pruning without apparent concern. Suddenly, the KPA security force commander demanded that the JSF commander cease pruning or there would be trouble. Captain Bonifas did not order the operation stopped. Senior Lieutenant Pak Chul of the KPA, seeing that he was losing control, took off his wristwatch, wrapped it in his handkerchief and put it in his pocket. Another North Korean rolled up his sleeves. Lieutenant Pak then shouted "MI KUN UL CHU KI GI CHA." Translated, it means, "Kill the U.S. Aggressors."; the UNC security force was attacked by a superior force of 30 KPA guards wielding pick handles, knives, clubs, and axes. Senior Lieutenant Pak jumped on Captain Bonifas from the back forcing him to the ground where Bonifas was beaten to death. 1LT Barrett was also attacked. The KPA soldiers used the mattox and axes the tree trimming detail was using prune the tree as weapons. The North Korean attack was broken up when a UNC soldier drove his 2 1/2 ton truck into the fight and over Captain Bonifas to protect him. The UNC Security Force then withdrew but not before two American Army Officers were murdered and, a ROKA officer, three Korean Augmentees to the US Army (KATUSA) and four US enlisted men were wounded.

The UNC's response to the North Korean attack in the JSA was the planning and execution of "Operation Paul Bunyan."